This application is a divisional application of application Ser. No. 12/423,232, filed Apr. 14, 2009, entitled “Network Addressible Loudspeaker and Audio Play”. The full disclosure of this application is incorporated herein by reference.
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OF THE INVENTION
In recent years, end users of multimedia content including music or video have begun to utilize a variety of electronic devices to listen to listen to the audio and view the video content. Furthermore, the available format by which the multimedia content may be acquired and stored has increased. For example, in addition to storage on compact disks (CDs) or digital video disks (DVDs), audio and video content may also be stored in digital files in memory at various electronic devices. Such electronic devices may include, but are not limited to, web servers, desktop computers, laptop computers, and portable multimedia electronic devices such as smartphones and digital audio/video players.
In addition, delivery of multimedia content to end users via communication networks such as the Internet has increased in popularity. For example, end users may purchase and download digital music or video from commercial websites such as Apple iTunes. Multimedia content may also be streamed to the end user whereby the user may listen to or view the streamed audio/video on his device as the audio or video residing on a remote device is being streamed. For example, an end user may listen to music on his device streamed from an Internet radio station.
As the types of devices used to listen to, view, organize, and store multimedia content increases, and the delivery of multimedia content across communication networks increases, improved methods and systems for listening to multimedia content are needed.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
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The present invention will be readily understood by the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals designate like structural elements.
FIG. 1 illustrates a system for self registration of network addressable loudspeakers.
FIG. 2 illustrates a system for audio play.
FIG. 3 illustrates a network addressable loudspeaker in one example.
FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate web pages where a user identifies a network addressable loudspeaker to add to his user profile.
FIG. 5 illustrates a web page where a user selects an audio source for audio play.
FIG. 6 illustrates a web page where a user selects a network addressable loudspeaker for audio play.
FIG. 7 illustrates the web page where a user identifies a temporary network addressable loudspeaker to add to his user profile as a guest user.
FIG. 8 illustrates a web page where a temporary network addressable loudspeaker has been added to a user profile.
FIG. 9 illustrates automatic selection of a network addressable loudspeaker from several network addressable loudspeakers based on proximity.
FIG. 10 is a flow diagram illustrating a self registration process for a network addressable loudspeaker.
FIG. 11 is a flow diagram illustrating a process for audio play including audio source selection and loudspeaker selection.
FIG. 12 is a flow diagram illustrating a process for proximity detection and switching for network addressable loudspeakers.
DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENTS
Methods and apparatuses for loudspeakers, selection of loudspeakers, and audio play are disclosed. The following description is presented to enable any person skilled in the art to make and use the invention. Descriptions of specific embodiments and applications are provided only as examples and various modifications will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art. The general principles defined herein may be applied to other embodiments and applications without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Thus, the present invention is to be accorded the widest scope encompassing numerous alternatives, modifications and equivalents consistent with the principles and features disclosed herein. For purpose of clarity, details relating to technical material that is known in the technical fields related to the invention have not been described in detail so as not to unnecessarily obscure the present invention.
In the prior art, end users of multimedia content using a portable device such as a smartphone, portable music player, or laptop computer are limited to using the loudspeakers on the portable device when listening to or viewing multimedia content. By tying the loudspeakers to either the source of the multimedia content or to the control device being used to access, select, and control playback of the multimedia content, the end user is limited to the quality of the loudspeakers at the control device, which may be of limited quality depending upon the control device.
In one example, a user-selectable network addressable loudspeaker is provided that is decoupled from either the audio source or the user control device. In a further example, a user-selectable network addressable loudspeaker is provided that is decoupled from both the audio source and the user control device. The network addressable loudspeaker, audio source, and user control device may be decoupled across the Internet. In one example described herein, a software and hardware system to play personalized audio sources from the Internet or home personal computer to any desired selected loudspeaker using a mobile phone or web browser enabled device. Although the singular term “loudspeaker” may be used herein, such reference also applies to multiple speakers, each of which may be outputting a channel of a multi-channel audio performance, for example a pair of stereo loudspeakers used to output the left and right channels of a stereo audio signal. Similarly, the term “stream” is used herein in a generic manner to denote the transmission of audio data for subsequent reproduction, and is not limited to continuous, “real time” transmission and reproduction of audio data.
The methods and systems described herein provide end users with an improved audio listening experience and listening flexibility. By providing decoupled, network addressable loudspeakers, end users are now able to listen to their cloud-centric music and other audio/video using the network addressable loudspeakers, which may be designed to be of higher quality or audiophile quality relative to the loudspeakers on their portable computer or other portable audio/visual device.
In one example, where decoupled from both the control device and audio source, the loudspeakers are self-contained units not containing unnecessary components such as a display, keyboard, or other similar user interface. As such, where an owner such as a hotel operator wishes to provide high quality loudspeakers in every room, the owner may provide the loudspeakers without the need to purchase additional components associated with a computer, control device, or audio source.
In one use scenario, when a newly purchased network addressable loudspeaker (also referred to herein simply as a “loudspeaker” or “speaker”) is first powered-on and connected to the Internet, a self-registration process is executed by the loudspeaker whereby the loudspeaker connects to a web server and transmits identification information. The owner or user of the loudspeaker logs onto a web application residing on the web server and adds the loudspeaker to his or her profile. A password and assign name may also be associated with the added loudspeaker.
During the audio play process, a user logs on to the web server and chooses which source of audio to play. After choosing the audio source, the user selects which loudspeaker to send the audio to. This may be accomplished, for example, using a browser on a PC, a dedicated PC or Mac application, a browser on a mobile phone, SMS message, or a dedicated application on a mobile phone. For loudspeakers on their profile or previously used speakers, a displayed list of selectable loudspeakers is already populated with the loudspeaker names. The web server also shows the “status” of each speaker, e.g., whether it is turned off, available, or busy playing other audio. Once the user selects the loudspeaker, the web server instructs the loudspeakers to connect to the audio source or to the web server and then the audio starts streaming to the selected loudspeakers.
For new loudspeakers which the user would like to use as a guest (such as in a hotel, at a friend\'s place, or a coffee shop), the guest user is provided the name of the speakers by the host or the facility, and the associated optional password. For example, a user staying at a particular hotel in room 3015 may select to use the speakers in the room, which could be named “HotelSF3015”. The speaker names may be globally unique to avoid conflicts, or could be only proximity-based to create a LAN-type setup where only local uniqueness is necessary. Alternatively, a subdomain type setup could facilitate this. During playback, a user can log into the web server service and change the selected output loudspeakers.
In order to prevent a user from playing audio on a loudspeaker the user is not authorized for or not in close proximity to, a variety of security techniques may be implemented. In one example, the speakers must be approved by the “owner” from the web server or a mobile application. To further control the permission, the owner can indicate the duration of any approval. In addition to password protection similar to that of a wireless LAN, proximity detection can provide another layer of policy control on this issue. Speakers can be selected for playback only upon verification of the same LAN gateway (i.e., speakers and the control device need to be in the same subnet). While this does not address a multi-tenant situation arising in a hotel or a pre-wired apartment building, it dramatically reduces the possibilities of conflict without sacrificing usability. In a further example, the speakers can utilize the Bluetooth ID of the control device to ensure proximity.